Today's run was bound to be good. And when we began this morning, we felt nothing could stop the run from being good. And nothing did. We ran a longer distance, we ran faster and we were less tired at the end of it. Nothing stopped that, thankfully. Not a few pulled muscles (something that happened on Saturday when I was not paying attention to the road while traversing a particularly uneven patch), not a 2nd degree burn injury I got (again, the result of not paying attention and my leg touched the silencer of a bike) not even the lethargy of the past two days.
The email I had sent out to my runners' group in Ahmedabad was there at the back of our minds. And somewhere, it was there at the back of Lihas' mind too. It was about how one could, if the author was to be believed, complete a marathon in less than three and a half hours. (For the uninitiated, the distance of a marathon race is 42.2kms and usually people finish between 4:30 and 5:00 - and five hours is the maximum time one gets.) We're no different, Lihas and I.
However, with our training, we were confident of recording a sub-four hour time at Athens. And now this email from me pushes the envelope further. Suddenly, our best that we had got comfortable with does not seem to be the best anymore. And who knows - Dave Elger might be right after all. All of this was not communicated; all of this remained unsaid till the time we finished our run. I write about this when I come to it. Right now, let me begin at the beginning.
This had happened on Saturday. I was not paying attention to the road on a particularly uneven patch and had kind of twisted my leg when it did not land properly. Of course, these things keep happening and are to be ignore. Which was done. The run was completed, knee forgotten. When I did not run on Sunday, it got aggravated. And then, Dr. Vishwas took over. The muscle was forcibly stretched. And when that hurt, in the evening, I wore a kneecap after a liberal application of muscle relaxant. And went to sleep. And woke up with more pain on Monday morning. So a visit to the (real) doctor was called for. I suspect my doctor refers to me as 'the maniac on the run' and he also probably knew that advising me not to run would not be taken. So he tells me, "Apply a generous dose of muscle relaxant and wear a knee-cap when you run." I know this doctor does not run. So sorry, only his medicine to be taken, not his advice.
Then, I stood too close to a bike which was parked and my left leg touched the exhaust. And I got a second degree burn. The good thing about this is I get to live in shorts till this heals.
So this was my physical condition when I started to run this morning. I started out with a pulled muscle right behind my right knee. And a second degree burn on my left calf. Both prime ammunition for the run, my legs, damaged. I hobbled up to Mansi 4 Rasta and joined Lihas. Should I pull out, this was my last chance. The run began. And I lost my chance. There was no turning back now. At Keshavbaug, Lihas asked me, "You sure you want to run?" And I just nodded. To which he said, "Then run fast. Faster than usual." And I just began to try and keep pace with him.
My mind was alternating between concentrating on the pulled muscle and the pain from the burn. At the Shivranjani Flyover I gave up. Thinking that is. All I wanted to do was for the run to get over. And get over fast. And Lihas kept prodding me on, pushing me to go faster.
Everything is a blur. I do not remember when we descended the Shivranjani Flyover, when we reached Shyamal Char Rasta and turned back and headed along the 132' Ring Road. It was after the Sola Flyover that my head kind of cleared, the run became enjoyable. I suddenly also realized that my right leg, the one with the pulled muscle, was not paining anymore. However, the other leg was hurting more, or so it seemed as sweat trickled down the burnt area.
And that is when Lihas and I began to chat. Everything was very sublimal. We were talking of how to reduce time; how to try and put theory into practice. We began to wonder whether and what cross training to do. We have, in fact, begun going to finish our runs at Vastrapur Lake and the cooling down and stretching takes place there. Now the cross training that we do will have to be aligned with our next goal that we have set for ourselves. And thus the chat continued meandering from one topic to another and before we knew it, it was time for me to take the lead - turn right from 132' Ring Road and run till Vastrapur Lake as fast as we could.
At the lake, 2 rounds cooled us down and I watched as Lihas Stretched. I took Lihas' advise and did not do the usual stretching today... and showed some mercy to my leg muscles.
On the walk back home, Lihas and I both were discussing the possibility of how one can actually achieve a sub-3:30 timing at a marathon. Nothing that we said seemed applicable to us - it was only a clinical discussion. And yet it was not. What did happen is it strengthened our resolve to do a sub-4:00 at Athens. I had heard that what one reads has an impact. I did not know the extent of it. Now I do.